Once upon a time, celebrating New Year’s Eve might have meant tying one on and waking up with a lampshade on your head but now you want to do up New Year’s family style. Awesome. When I was little I always thought it was a little unfair that kids were left out of all the New Year’s hubbub, didn’t you? We’re lucky because our town has a family-friendly First Night celebration every year. And when our daughter was little, she was the kind of baby who’d fall asleep anywhere so we actually did get to enjoy one post-parenting New Year’s Even among friends. Not that it got crazy but still, we were out!
This year, that former baby is now four (and three-quarters, she’ll tell you) and her brother is a party baby who absolutely will not sleep if there’s any kind of action happening in his general vicinity so we’ll be celebrating the arrival of the new year as a family. I’ve been looking into how to make it a fun and meaningful day for everyone, not just the grownups, and here are some of the ideas I’ve encountered
Ring in the Noon Year
As interesting s staying up until midnight sounds to most kids, most kids are not cut out of staying awake for the long haul. Make 12 p.m. on December 31 your New Year’s Eve countdown target and do it up right with sparkling cider or club soda with juice in fancy glasses, noisemakers (pots and wooden spoons will do in a pinch), and a special treat like cake or cupcakes.
Make It a Party
Go to Party City and grab all the glittery New Year’s Eve swag you can find, and decorate your house in full-on party style. Kids – especially little ones – often don’t grasp the significance of the coming of a new year or they’re just plain overwhelmed with a holiday that pales in comparison to Christmas. The more festive you make New Year’s Eve, the more fun it will be.
Turn It into a Special Event
If you’re having a party that’s all-ages, why not have pity on your fellow parents and make it a big to-do? Your mom friends are probably wondering what they can do that day that’s family-friendly and fun for everyone. Your kids get to spend time celebrating with friends and you get some much needed grownup fun. Just make sure to keep an eye on the tweens and teens if you’re serving alcohol. I have fond memories of “taste testing” drinks when I was 14.
Get the Kids Crafting
Alternately, have the kids make all the decorations and then some. Countdown cards are a fun way to ring in the new year (or the new afternoon) and who doesn’t love DIYs that involve craft paper and glitter glue? Make cards with 10 through 1 on them and hold up the cards as you count down. This is a great way to work some number recognition into the big day.
Let Older Kids Host a Sleepover
You’ll be doing parents a favor by giving them a chance to ring in the new year in grownup style, and if you suspect your kids would have had trouble going to bed before midnight… well, you know how much sleeping is done at sleepovers anyway. Why not make an event of your kids’ attempts to stay up all night?
Share Your Hopes and Dreams as a Family
You can make New Year’s Resolutions with kids but not every family wants to attach goal setting to an arbitrary date. Instead of making resolutions, why not sit around the living room – in front of the fireplace if you have one – and share what you hope to achieve or would like to see happen in the coming year? It can be very interesting to see what your little ones are thinking about changing or accomplishing!
Watch Last Year’s Home Movies
New Year’s Eve is a great time to reminisce about how far you’ve come as a family, and kids usually love watching themselves on the TV or laptop screen. Talk about how different you all are after just a single year – even the grownups who may look the same have undergone transformations. What were your favorite moments? What challenges did you face?
Make a Homemade Balloon Drop
Who says that Times Square is where it’s at? A balloon drop right in your own living room can help you ring in the new year in a big way. All it takes is a big trash bag filled with balloons hung upside down from the ceiling. Tie it with a slipknot instead of the usual twisty tie. At midnight (or noon) let the balloons shower down on your little ones. They’ll love it!
Create a Family Time Capsule
Gather family photos and fun keepsakes that represent the year your family has had and place them in a homemade or store-bought time capsule. An old mason jar with a tight-fitting lid works great if you’d rather not have to hunt down and buy a pre-made capsule. Make a ceremony about stashing the filled capsule somewhere in your home or burying it in the yard, and then pledge to open it in a year, 10 years, or even longer. Knowing your family time capsule is there can make each new year’s passing more exciting.
We at Mom Meet Mom hope you have a wonderful new year! What do you have planned for New Year’s Eve?